Thursday, April 28, 2016

American Girl In Africa


There is a saying in Sierra Leone, it goes: you no de tek tem tak. This roughly translates to: you aren't thinking before you say things (when saying this there is a not so subtle "you idiot" implied).

Often times, people will ask me what it's like living in Sierra Leone. They ask brilliant questions like: "Is it hot there?" Or "Do you, like, have a pet zebra?" Or, my personal favorite, "Do you speak African?" Yes. Yes, I speak a continent. At these times, all I can think is: you no de tek tem tak. Though I can't really blame them, because four years ago I would have been asking the same questions.
Our house

In the summer of 2012, I, my two younger sisters, Anna and Ella, and (of course) my parents packed up our things and moved to Sierra Leone, West Africa. Our parents had made the announcement to us three Ropiecki girls almost a year before (at an Ethiopian restaurant, oddly enough), but no matter how many times we watched the lion king, it could not prepare us for the real thing.

Here we are heading of to Africa

 As a twelve year old kid who had only been out of STATE a couple of times, a new CONTINENT was a bit overwhelming. And I will admit, at first, I struggled. But Salone (Sierra Leone's Krio name) grew on me, and is now my home just as much as the states were.

In order to avoid making this blog entry an autobiography, I'm not going to try to explain everything that has happened with the Ropiecki family while living here. Needless to say, it's a quite a lot! We've gone from living in a tiny quiet village called Bauya, to living in Freetown, Sierra Leone's Capitol.

We've had strange medium of jobs, from being local village Doctor, to helping set up Ebola quarantine centers, to digging wells (and a plethora of other things!). And most importantly, we acquired two new family members, Hawa and Maggie, who's adoptions we're currently working on.
My Family

To give you a picture of my (often crazy) family, I'll explain life for us right now. We live in Freetown, Sierra Leon's Capitol and big city. There are seven of us: my dad and mom, my sisters, Anna (12), Ella (8), Hawa (6), Maggie (3), and me (15)! And then there's our dog Krakin (we amply named her after the scary sea monster), who is probably closer to the size of a horse than a dog.

Our Dog Krakin

Here in Salone, it rains six months out of the year, and for the other six months we have blistering sun (fun, right?).
 Rainy Season Fun

 The official language of Sierra Leone is English but most people just speak Krio (a pigeon language that is a mixture of English, and native African language), or the occasional tribal language.
Me with a chameleon.
Sierra Leone has gorgeous beaches, and lush jungles that are home to a lot of cool animals. We may not have any of the cliché African animals (lions, zebras, giraffes) but we do have (to names few cool ones) chimpanzees, chameleons, boa constrictors, cobras and crocodiles- both fresh water and salt water!

 Us in Bauya
When we lived in Bauya, these jungle animals were everywhere, but now that we live in the city, things are a little different. Here in Freetown we have paved roads (mostly paved), electricity (some of the time), and even super-markets! We've met some fellow expats with kids I and my siblings age who live not far from us, and it's been really cool getting to know people who've gone through the same things we have.
Anna with a Monkey
My sister, Anna, and I just started helping out at an after school tutoring program (which we love!), and I'm currently trying to set up an art program there.
Anna helping out a child in the tutoring program
When writing this, I was asked to write about a typical day in my life, but this can be a bit hard to explain. Things change A LOT for me. I mean, they can go from 0 to 60 like *that*! I don't have much of an answer! So, the next time someone asks me "What's it like living in Sierra Leone?" (Only the single hardest question to answer EVER), I won't think: you no de tek tem tak.
Me and a Free Town Bo
That doesn't mean I'll have an answer, but that's okay. Life changes. A lot. But good things come of that change (even if I can't exactly see it at the time). And though there will probably be more change later, right now is my good things.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Like this post? Check out Keep Your Feet In The Water


  1. Aubrey, you are awesome and we miss you and everyone else too!!!!!!

  2. I miss you so much and am so proud of the incredible young woman you are becoming! Madison sends her love and we all send our hugs along with it.